Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Thwarting the Tivo

For some shows that get recorded on my Tivo, I miss the last 30- 60 seconds. This is usually next week's preview, which sucks, but I figured that it was just an oversight, not blaming the Tivo OR the network. On the radio this morning it was announced that this "timing issue" is intentional on behalf of the network.

Why? Commercials, of course! I mean, it's not as if we're not hit with a barrage of advertisements while watching the program- product placement as well as those little banner ads that are constantly appearing at the bottom of the screen. Besides Sarah Jessica telling us that we should wear Jimmy Choo's, and House placing his iPod and Bose SoundDock prominently in his office, we must need the regular commercials as well.

Now, I know it is unlikely that network executives lurk on my blog, but here is what Tivo does for me:

I have a job. A full time (plus overtime, more often than not) job that pays my bills- including the cable bill. If it were not for the aforementioned job, I couldn't watch television at all. Sometimes, this pesky job means that I miss my favorite programs either because (a) I am working or (b) I am getting ready for bed and can't watch TV while doing so.

Tivo allows me to still follow shows that I enjoy without having to schedule my life around it. After all, let's face it: I don't really care about TV that much. I like TV, and Tivo makes it so that I can watch what I please, but if it all sucks, there are other options.

In Tivo's defense, Tivo has suggested shows in the "Tivo Suggestions" section that have been real winners. Among them are House and Grey's Anatomy. Two shows that I never would have watched had the Tivo not recognized my programming preferences and recorded it for me to sample. Tivo also makes it possible for the conventionally employed contingent of the Robot Chicken audience to watch the show at a more reasonable hour than 3:00 AM.

I understand the importance of commercials; without them, how would studio executives get painfully wealthy? After all, that summer home in Maui is a real necessity, like food and air. How could we, in good conscience, deprive them of that? [I honestly think it's okay to make money, and I even like the idea of someday having more money myself, but for the sake of the discussion, go with it.]

What I don't understand is why television gets more and more expensive. When the newspapers started placing ads more prominently, the prices dropped because they get most of their revenue from ads. Why isn't this the case with television, where every scene in the show is full of ads? Just a question.

I think the network executives are missing a major point with this Tivo rivalry: Tivo encourages people to watch MORE TV. More programming, more commercials, more everything- which they may not have been inclined to do if they had to schedule their TV time against social and professional obligations.

After all, if I like a show enough, or I want to give it a try, I can always get it from Netflix- without ANY commercials. Tivo appears to be the lesser of two evils in this case, but hey, I wouldn't give up my luxury items without a fight either if I was a network executive.

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